This Thursday 8 September is R U OK? Day.
R U OK? Day is a National suicide prevention initiative that encourages Australians to ask their friends, family, colleagues or neighbours “are you ok?”.
To support R U OK Day, we have placed flags on the Entrance Bridge and Brian McGowan Bridge and are reminding our community to open-up and reach out if they are struggling with life.
It’s often the people around us that can best help us navigate life’s ups and downs - one simple conversation really can save a life, by asking people to open-up, when they are struggling emotionally. Anyone can do it and its proven to make a difference.
Did you know?
Nearly half of all Australians (45%) will experience some form of mental illness during their lifetime.
The Central Coast has one of the highest rates of suicide in comparison to other health districts across NSW.
With such high statistics of people suffering a mental illness, it is not surprising that every day eight Australians die by suicide and one in four people say they know someone who has taken their own life.
How you can make a difference
It’s the question you shouldn’t wait to ask. Are they really ok? Ask them today. A conversation could change a life.
Before you ask, be prepared.
Am I ready?
- Are you in a good headspace?
- Are you willing to genuinely listen?
- Have you set aside the time you might need?
Am I prepared?
- Remember that you won’t have all the answers (and that’s OK).
- It can be difficult for people to talk about personal struggles and they might be emotional, embarrassed or upset.
Pick your moment
- Have you chosen somewhere relatively private where you’ll both be comfortable to chat?
- When is a good time for them to have a meaningful chat?
- If they don’t have time when you first approach them, arrange another time for the conversation.
- It might be more comfortable for the person to be side-by-side with you (e.g. walking together or sitting in the car) rather than face-to-face.
Tips on how to ask
- Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach.
- Help them open up by asking questions like "How are you going?" or "What’s been happening?"
- Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like "You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?".
- Tell them you’re still concerned about changes in their behaviour and you care about them.
- Avoid a confrontation.
- You could say: “Please call me if you ever want to chat” or “Is there someone else you’d rather talk to?”
- Remember, if they don’t want to talk, don’t criticise them.
For more tips on how to ask R U OK? Visit ruok.org.au/how-to-ask
If you are worried that someone might be suicidal contact Lifeline for crisis support on 13 11 14 or call 000 If life is in danger.
Learn how to listen
- Be prepared to listen. Don’t try and solve their problems right away.
- Have an open mind.
- Don’t rush them, or interrupt. Let them speak in their own time.
- Encourage them to explain.
- Show you’ve listened by repeating back what you have heard and asking if you have understood them correctly.
Learn how to encourage action
- Ask: “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?”
- Ask: “How would you like me to support you?"
- Ask: “What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?”
- You could say: "When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this... You might find it useful too."
If they've been feeling really down for more than 2 weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. You could say, "It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I'm happy to assist you to find the right person to talk to.”
Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times.
If they need expert help
Some conversations are too big for family and friends to take on alone. If someone’s been really low for more than 2 weeks - or is at risk - please call Lifeline on 131 114 or 000 if it is an emergency.
Remember to check in
- Remember to check in again soon to see how the person is doing. During the conversation, ask them to suggest a time that’s good for them: “Do you mind if I drop by again soon to see how you’re travelling?”
- Ask them how they’re feeling and if they’ve found ways to better manage their situation.
- If they haven’t done anything, be encouraging and remind them you’re always there if they need a chat. Remember that for now they might just need someone to lend a listening ear.
For more information
R U OK? is a harm prevention charity that encourages people to stay connected and have conversations that can help others through difficult times in their lives.
More information can be found at www.ruok.org.au